Panda in Paris


automne tout à coup

Posted in France by parisianpanda on October 15, 2009
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1) On Monday Axel and I went on a trip around the Seine on the Bateaux Mouches.

He was significantly more interested in the other boats than in any of the monuments. (“There’s a purple one! Purple is my favorite color!” “That one has a car on it!”)

Also, there are narrations on the boat as you go past monuments in six or seven different languages, and the English version speaks with a British accent. Axel thought it was funny that he pronounced “Frahhhhnce” with a long “a” sound. It is nice that at least one French person thinks the British accent is more ridiculous than the American one.

Axel with his face full of cookie.

Axel with his face full of cookie.

2) My old host brother has a band that he has secretly been in for a year and a half without telling me. They are called Noisy Anvil, which is hilarious. I watched them play yesterday with Kat and it was truly a sight to be seen. I wish more of my friends had secret hobbies for me to discover.*

3) Jezebel had a post recently about how Breast Cancer Awareness Month is all a big marketing ploy, and I realized that it doesn’t exist here. Which is nice because I’m already pretty aware of breast cancer. Also, there is probably no cause no matter how noble that could make Parisians buy a bunch of pink crap to put in their houses, except maybe a campaign to put George Clooney in every movie.

4) I have allowed a neighbor lady to hijack my weekend to babysit her albino baby. Apparently there are four albino people within three blocks of me. If David Lynch made movies in Paris instead of the suburbs he would make them in this neighborhood.

5) I have still not had to go my real job regularly and won’t have to until Monday. Also supposedly a few of the teachers that have requested hours for me won’t actually need me until after vacation. Which means I have sort of quasi-worked for three weeks before getting ten days’ paid vacation. God bless this country.

*That was probably an invitation for my Olympia friends to start telling me about drugs.

You see Corentin thinks he is funny because he is hitchhiking in the RER, but the RER is going to stop anyway! They are a hilarious, the French people. Haven't you seen the originial Three Men and a Baby?

You see Corentin thinks he is funny because he is hitchhiking in the RER, but the RER is going to stop anyway! They are a hilarious, the French people. Haven't you seen the originial Three Men and a Baby?

I could probably use a haircut.

I could probably use a haircut.

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in which my roommate is the coolest person ever

Posted in France by parisianpanda on October 6, 2009
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Tonight my roommate told me she was leaving for a week on the 17th to go to Jordan. I told her I had two weeks of vacation when she got back but that I wasn’t sure I would have enough money to go anywhere – between the hit I took replacing my iPod and, due to what (I think) is a ridiculous bureaucratic mixup, I may not be getting paid for October until the end of November, (though that isn’t sure yet – the Spanish and Arabic assistants might stage a coup with me if that happens)  the pot is going to be a little dry this month to the point where I may have to dip into my CD account early. To which she responded “That’s ridiculous. You’re here to take advantage of opportunities in France and Europe. If you’re not here for 15 days you only pay half your rent.” I am still not sure I’m leaving but half my rent is probably how much I would spend traveling anyway and I’m pretty happy to be living with someone who feels that way about it.

My school is working out pretty well so far – all the English teachers are very nice (even though more than half of them speak with ridiculous French accents a la Monty Python and the Holy Grail) and they all seem like reasonable people, although it’s a little sad that they constantly talk about how dumb the students are. It’s not the worst suburb – not one with burning cars and gang violence that Fox News likes to talk about – but still a community of underachieving working class kids. Some of the mistakes they make are pretty funny (one teacher showed me a response to an analysis of a Captain America comic that said only “To be bad is sad”,) I’m not sure going into a classroom assuming the kids are going to fail is a good approach. (I know about these things because I watched Season 4 of the Wire.)

Improv classes have been going well – the teacher we’ve had for the past two weeks is German, and certain things he says are 130% more hilarious because he says them with a German accent (“I love hugging barrels,” “This bar is a meat factory.”) The teacher for the next two weeks is Danish, and I’m not sure there are as many hilarious things to be said with a Scandinavian accent, but it remains to be seen.

I went out for Nuit Blanche on Saturday, which is a night in which Paris is at least theoretically open all night and there are big artistic events in all the parks. I didn’t take my camera out of lingering paranoia from the iPod incident of going out with it amongst huge crowds, but my new and really awesome Australian friend Kat-sur-Seine was there (and will perhaps post pictures?) Mostly I saw multicolored lights in the pond at the Buttes Chaumont and a lot of red umbrellas at three in the morning and the whole thing felt like an acid trip, not like I would know what an acid trip feels like.

This post is incoherent but I have to get up early tomorrow for a full day of boring orientation in a town more than an hour away so this is the end.

creepsters and missing ipods and first days of school

Posted in France by parisianpanda on October 1, 2009
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Today was the first day of school and I woke up realizing my iPod was gone. I think it must have fallen out of my bag when I was walking home last night trying to walk fast to make sure a particularly aggressive French creep was at least 15 feet behind me at all times, because I know I had it last night and I can’t think of any other reason it could be missing, plus I remember opening my bag to look for my phone while he was behind me. So I went all the way to school on the verge of tears being mad at myself for being so flustered the night before that I managed to lose a $400 toy and now I have to listen to crying babies on public transportation indefinitely and I was sort of convinced that my experience at the school was going to be awful based on the lack of communication they have had with me thus far. So not a great morning.

When I got to the school I went to the office, which is actually a series of different offices in a circular room with no receptionist, I walked around in circles reading nameplates on doors trying to figure out who to talk to when two men in suits bumped into me and asked if they could help. I told them I was the English assistant and I had no idea where I was supposed to be, and they both looked super relieved and introduced themselves as the principals of the school and that they were worried I wasn’t coming because they hadn’t heard from me (despite the fact that I’ve called twice…) They were also super relieved that they didn’t have to help me find somewhere to live because apparently both the Arabic and Spanish assistants showed up at the school with suitcases and nowhere to go. The head English teacher who is in charge of my schedule is out until next Tuesday afternoon so I don’t have to go back until then. Apparently the school has eleven English teachers who are all fighting over my hours.

Everyone in the school seemed really shocked to hear that I was American and not English, which is particularly weird because apparently the assistant last year was also American. And one of the English teachers I met said, “I’m sorry, I don’t really speak American, I speak mostly British!” as if she may as well have been speaking Chinese. She was very nice though.

So the school thing looks like it will work out okay but the fact that my iPod is probably gone forever still makes me want to curl up in a ball and cry. Word to the wise: do not walk home on avenue St. Ouen at night or a man will follow you around yelling and you will lose something important. I guess it’s time to report my iPod stolen to Apple, and maybe buy some pepper spray. Gah.

EDIT: Apparently reporting stolen iPods to Apple is pretty useless and it’s illegal to carry pepper spray in France (but strangely, not illegal to buy it.) Aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaagh I hate my life.